(Natural News) A United States nuclear submarine hit an “unknown object” in the South China Sea, injuring at least 11 sailors. It remains unclear what the object was, but the submarine is still “fully operational.” Unnamed officials say that the collision happened in international waters amidst rising tensions in Southeast Asia.
The Navy says that it is still assessing the extent of the damage and that the submarine’s nuclear propulsion plant has not been affected. However, the statement fails to give details about where exactly the incident took place or the seriousness of the injuries.
According to the official report, the incident occurred while the submarine was conducting routine operations and that the Navy did not make the news public to maintain operational security.
However, officials say that the object the USS Connecticut collided with was not another submarine. It may have been a sunken vessel or container or another uncharted object.
Singapore-based defense and security expert Alexander Neill says that the number of injuries caused by the collision suggested the submarine probably hit something that is big and “going really fast.” While it is uncommon, such incident is not unheard of considering how the area is busy with military activities.
Show of force by vessels from the US and China
“The South China Sea has been increasingly saturated with naval vessels from a number of different countries. While there’s been a lot of show of force by surface vessels you don’t see the level of activity under the surface,” says Neill.
A spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs has said that China is “seriously concerned” about the incident, and is calling on the U.S. to provide further details, including the purpose of the mission. The submarine has later been reported to be heading to Guam.
The last known incident where a submerged U.S. submarine struck another underwater object was in 2005, when the USS San Francisco hit an underwater mountain at full speed near Guam, leading to the death of one sailor.
The U.S. Navy’s surface fleet has previously suffered accidents in the Western Pacific in recent years, including a back-to-back collision involving missile destroyers in 2017. Those incidents have prompted the dismissal of the fleet commander and extensive investigations into naval training, policies and equipment.
The USS Connecticut is one of the country’s Seawolf-class submarines, which the Navy describes as “exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed and equipped with advanced sensors.” It can also hold eight torpedo tubes and can hold as many as 50 weapons per room.
A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman says that the U.S. should release details of the collision, adding that the assertiveness of the administration in the region was ultimately to blame. “The U.S. side has been making waves in the South China Sea under the banner of freedom of navigation. This is the source of this accident,” says Zhao Lijian during a news briefing in Beijing.
The incident comes to light amidst high tensions between Beijing and Washington, and just weeks after the U.S. and Britain signed a deal to supply nuclear-powered submarines to Australia’s military. This has happened just days after China sent military planes into Taiwan’s air space, prompting concerns of Beijing launching a war against Taipei. (Related: Taiwan says it is preparing for war as China continues to provoke conflict with massive incursions of fighters, bombers.)
The U.S. has condemned China for installing weapons systems on a man-made reef in the South China Sea where both the body of water and the East China Sea just north of it is full of territorial disputes between China, other Asian nations and the West. The U.S. considers most of the south and east China Seas as international waters, but the communist country claims dominion over the region.
Read more updates regarding this story at NationalSecurity.news.